Leopard euthanized in Indian zoo

Santosh Andhal

Three months after defying certain death through mercy killing, Laxmi, the 19-year-old leopard languishing in a paralytic state in Jijamata Udyan died of cardiac arrest on Tuesday night.

Sustained efforts had been made by animal rights groups to save her, with even Ratan Tata coming forward to offer financial help for her treatment. She had also been provided with a hay bed, a water bed and a walker in the last three months.

However, Dr D S Suryavanshi, assistant professor in pathology, Bombay Veterinarian College said Laxmi suffered a respiratory failure on Tuesday night as she had lung cancer. She was cremated in the animal hospital inside Byculla Zoo, the Udyan’s superintendent P A Naringekar said.

On July 21, Mumbai Mirror had first reported how the BMC, in spite of getting all clearances for mercy killing of the ailing leopard, was hesitant to pull the trigger as it feared a backlash from animal rights activists.

Laxmi had been in the animal hospital inside the zoo ever since suffered a paralytic stroke last year. Vets at the hospital told BMC in May this year that her condition had worsened and she had even developed bedsores and given up on food. The BMC, which controls the zoo, then thought the only way out was to put Laxmi out of her pain with euthanasia.

On June 1, zoo superintendent P A Naringrekar wrote to the chief conservator of forests B Majumdar seeking permission for mercy killing. A team comprising zoo veterinarians, a member of the Animal Welfare Board and a member of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) then examined the animal and gave a report saying mercy killing was necessary. The zoo also sent the reports to the Central Zoo Authority and obtained its nod. BMC also approached animal rights group PETA and obtained its approval.

But, after BMC backtracked, the Vansmith Animal Trust said it would try to save the leopard and look at possible ways for its recovery. Ratan Tata then offered to fund all medical tests that were necessary. However, no major operation was possible due to Laxmi’s deteriorating condition, and even the water bed and walker proved to be of little help.

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